tv NBC Nightly News NBC February 25, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
on our broadcast tonight, free at last. americans finally out of libya, but gadhafi may be cornered. tonight our report from inside tripoli. a wild ride and a dramatic end to one phase of the showdown in wisconsin, but it's not over yet. making a difference, they are calling him the earthquake mayor. tonight we meet the man rallying a city that's been shaken to the core. plus why the biggest name in beer stopped making beer today at one of its plants. "nightly news" begins now. captions paid for by nbc-universal television good evening. what's happening tonight in
libya is being called a deadly end game. gadhafi spoke again today, another strange speech. he threatened to turn his nation into a red flame. he promised to release the weapons in his arsenal to the rebels fighting for him. he also told people to dance and sing. the evacuation of americans is over. they got out safely today on a charter flight and a ferry boat. tonight most of them are there in malta. and for the first time we have someone inside tripoli in libya tonight, so we begin with the reporting of nbc's bill neely. >> reporter: in the heart of his capital, a dictator defiant. moammar gadhafi, ever the showman, determined to rally what's left of his support. it's the first time he's dared take to the streets since the rebellion against him began. here he was in green square, where his men had killed protesters, threatening more violence.
i will open my arsenal, he told them. you'll have all the guns you need. the time has come, libya will become a red flame. they are words that spell more trouble. and there was trouble enough today. not far from where he spoke, the sound of gunfire. his people scattering. the video is shaky, the crackdown is not. across tripoli, there were many reports of police or men in plainclothes confronting demonstrators. they say many died, but it's impossible to confirm how many. the clashes began as hundreds of thousands left friday prayers in mosques across tripoli. there had been calls for the crowds to merge and mount a massive protest demonstration. gadhafi's men were determined not to allow this, and they struck with brutal force. it's a regime that looks
confident, at least judging by the wink of gadhafi jr. this is saif, the colonel's son and once his heir apparent. here spelling out his vision, his future. >> plan a is to live and die in libya. plan b is to live and die in libya. plan c is to live and die in libya. >> reporter: the gadhafis appear determined not to back down. colonel gadhafi has been defiant and isolated before, but never like this. never cornered in his own country. bill neely, nbc news, tripoli. and now to those evacuated americans. their escape by ferry boat was delayed by high seas, but they arrived a few hours ago in malta on board the boat chartered by the u.s. nbc's martin fletcher is at the harbor where the ship came in. martin, good evening. >> reporter: brian, this was the end of the nightmare.
tripped in libya and then trapped on a boat. tonight tired and happy, 167 americans and 118 other nationals reached safety here in malta. as the 200-foot catamaran chartered by the u.s. government docked in malta, you could feel the sigh of relief. first off, the sick and the elderly and the children. they had been stuck on the boat for 60 hours. the seas were too rough to sail. no beds, nowhere to go, barely enough food, but not a word of complaint. >> we are happy to be here. we are beyond words happy to be here. >> reporter: donald hemphill from peoria, illinois, escaped from libya a week ago. he came to greet his colleagues. >> at least on the boat they were safe and had food and water. >> there was humor too, irish wit. >> i spent my life waiting for my ship to come in. the ship to come out was the one that counted more. >> reporter: but what they escaped from wasn't so funny. >> we got stopped by armed
militia with ak-47s, rocket grenades going over our place, explosions. >> reporter: here 100 or so americans flew to turkey. >> the security circumstances in tripoli were such that it was impossible for anyone but really a handful of people to reach our plane. >> reporter: that leaves about 300 more americans still in libya, among more than 100,000 foreigners trying to leave. children were tired, no surprise. this boy had one word to describe his ordeal. >> rough. >> reporter: and this young mother summed it up best of all. >> how are you guys? >> we're fine. we're very grateful to be here. >> good, yeah. >> reporter: everyone we spoke to praised the u.s. officials and the ferry line and they couldn't wait to go home. but one woman was still scared, for the libyan friends she left behind. >> a little happiness to come out of this. martin fletcher in malta tonight. martin, thank you. now to our chief foreign
correspondent, richard engel. who remains inside libya. he made his way into the headquarters of the anti-gadhafi rebel operation today. he's live again tonight from what is the unofficial rebel capital, the city of benghazi. richard, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. there are now effectively two libyas, one based here in benghazi, the other in tripoli, and they are locked in this deadly struggle. as gadhafi held his state-sponsored rally, his government offered libyans money. hundreds of dollars per family, and raises of 150% for some state employees. many in the libyan opposition, showed contempt. they don't want gadhafi's money, and cut his picture from the bill. but today was gadhafi's day to try to win back the people. to try to prove blatantly false claims that the protesters are al qaeda-led drug addicts, state television today broadcast an alleged confession. but his statements appeared to
be prompted from off camera. and in benghazi, the unofficial capital of the opposition, no one is even paying attention to it. instead, demonstrators were out in force. singing and dancing on a tank, captured from the army. thousands of protesters are out to celebrate but also to taunt gadhafi. they're saying bring on the planes and mercenaries, we're ready to fight. and more images are emerging that show the extent of the fighting so far, including possible atrocities. documenting the violence is mohammed zadan. he is a former state tv reporter, now with the rebels. he is collecting hundreds of photographs and videos. most are difficult to look at. >> these are dead bodies. >> yeah, dead bodies. >> reporter: as we looked at images of libyans killed execution-style, they then grew increasingly upset. one of the victims was a friend from college.
>> they killed my people. >> reporter: in this burned-out courthouse, now the opposition headquarters, volunteers are gathering evidence of what they call war crimes, hoping one day to bring gadhafi's regime to justice. protesters have been waiting for a strong message from washington. written in graffiti on the wall at that protester headquarters today, it said that president obama must choose between the libyan people or gadhafi. brian. >> richard engel in the city of benghazi in libya tonight. richard, thank you. gadhafi's son said further tonight, by the way, tripoli is calm and this is all the work of terrorists. back here in the u.s., the white house turned up pressure on libya today and there was an extraordinary scene at the u.n. late today. nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell, watching it all from our washington newsroom tonight. andrea, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. as soon as american diplomats and civilians were safely out of libya, the white house announced
it will impose sanctions on moammar gadhafi and declared he has zero legitimacy after attacking his own people. galvanized by the blood shed, the u.n. security council heard a dramatic plea for help from libya's ambassador. >> please, united nations, save libya. not blood shed, not killing of innocents. >> reporter: it was a rare display of emotion for the u.n. as his fellow ambassadors got up to embrace the libyan diplomat and the u.n. secretary general called for a broad range of sanctions against gadhafi's government. in geneva, the u.n. human rights council applauded the diplomats as they defected to the opposition. the council voted today to investigate libya for human rights abuses and called for libya's suspension from the human rights council. at the white house, president obama decided to close the u.s. embassy in tripoli, suspend limited military cooperation, freeze arm sales and the treasury department sent this advisory to banks, to be on the
lookout for any movement of gadhafi's money. this as they prepare to freeze his assets, perhaps as soon as tomorrow. the british and swiss already have. >> it's clear that colonel gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people. >> reporter: the white house still stopped short of calling for gadhafi's ouster. france's president sarkozy was tougher. he said mr. gadhafi must leave. >> we shouldn't kid ourselves. sanctions, asset freezing, travel limits and the rest are not the sort of tools that are going to turn a situation like this around. >> until the money runs out, until the mercenaries run out, until those family members who control security units around gadhafi decide that he has to go and that may well not happen, there's not a whole lot we're going to do. >> reporter: still in washington today at their residence, libyan diplomats, raised the old libyan flag from before gadhafi's rule. although nato met today to
consider a no-fly zone, most military officials believe constant air patrols are too difficult to implement. the president is likely to head the sanction order tomorrow and secretary clinton heads to geneva sunday. none of these options are enough to force gadhafi to give up. >> andrea, thanks. the demand for change, people-led change, spilled into the streets again today all across the arab world, calling for a day of rage. from the largest protests yet in bahrain to tens of thousands in yemen, big crowds in the streets of cairo and also in iraq, of all places, where the protests turned violent. at least ten people were killed in showdowns with riot police in baghdad and a handful of other cities across iraq. we've been watching oil prices here all week as they have rocketed higher because of this instability in libya. the week closed out on a fairly quiet note, though crude was up another 60 cents closing near
$98 a barrel. that price, by the way, is up 14% from just last week. defense secretary robert gates is making headlines tonight for something he said today in a speech to the corps of cadets at west point. the man in charge of the pentagon during our two wars issued a surprisingly blunt warning against any more american wars like iraq and afghanistan. >> in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big american land army into asia or into the middle east or africa should have his head examined, as general macarthur so delicately put it. >> gates was hired by president bush in late '06 to take over the war effort in iraq that started under donald rumsfeld. president obama kept him on when he took office. more nasty weather making news tonight. it was a tough morning commute as far north as kansas city this morning. and there was tragedy in kentucky.
four amish children were swept away and drowned after their horse and buggy overturned in a heavy downpour. the same system caused damage across parts of the midwest, tennessee valley. six confirmed tornados were logged, a dozen more reported on the ground. and it could be an awful evening, by the way, on the red carpet this weekend in los angeles. the forecast for oscar weekend, cold, wind, downpours at times and possible hail in some spots. when we come back here tonight, labor versus the legislature. the standoff becomes a showdown in wisconsin. and later, after the quake, the good humor, the amazing resilience of the people of new zealand and the man who embodies all of it. the man who is making a difference. t,
the standoff between public labor unions and the state legislature in wisconsin took a dramatic turn in the wee small hours of the morning. the legislature won that battle, but as our own mike taibbi reports from madison, this war isn't over yet. >> reporter: at 1:00 in the morning it really was all over but the shouting. democrats in wisconsin state assembly shouting in anger at the republicans used an obscure rule allowing them to end all debate and vote yes on the bill that rolls back the benefits and
bargaining power of the state's public unions. but that vote doesn't make governor scott walker's bill law. the state senate has to pass it, and walker kept the pressure on the 14 awol democrats, 11 of whom were on msnbc's "the ed show" last night to do their job. >> enough time has passed. it's time to come back and have a vote on this measure. >> reporter: senate republicans have tried other means of persuasion. suspending direct deposit of the democrats' paychecks, even sending state police to several of their local homes to try and collect them. >> until they take this backwards budget bill off the table, there's nothing to really go back to. >> reporter: inside the statehouse, meanwhile, the crowds of overnight campers and protesters keep up their vigils. a weary resolve still evident. >> i think we are getting worn out, but we are stronger than ever. >> reporter: but in what's primarily a numbers game, it is organized labor that's taking the hits. some madison teachers getting their pay docked for the days they were protesting instead of
teaching. the practical deadline for the governor and his opponents is next tuesday. that's when the governor gives his budget address and that's when his threat to order layoffs becomes reality if his bill has not been voted on and passed. mike taibbi, nbc news, madison, wisconsin. up next here tonight, why a famous brewery today decided to put something else in its beer cans.
the white house has done something tonight that's never been done before. they have hired a man for the job of social secretary. it's always been a female bastion. the new man in the job is jeremy bernard, who is currently serving the u.s. ambassador in france. bernard is not only the first man in the job, he's also the first openly gay person to hold the job. it's been a little bit more than two years since that u.s. airways airbus made an emergency landing in the hudson river here in manhattan.
the flight that became known, of course, as miracle on the hudson. tonight we've gotten a first look at the plane which is in a hangar in new jersey, still in the same shape it was when they pulled it out of the water after that incredible landing by sully sullenberger. the wings have been removed, but everything is going to be reattached. the plane was headed that day for north carolina. that's where it's going to finally get to this summer when it's placed in an exhibit in charlotte. the actor charlie sheen who may now be better known for his out of control behavior off screen than his actual acting at this point has finally gone too far with management. cbs announced last night it's shutting down production of his hit sitcom "two and a half men," the number one comedy on television, by the way, after sheen delivered a rant on the radio against his producer. sheen says he will still report to work next week. and exactly how bad a spring flooding season are we expecting in the american midwest? today anheuser-busch in
cartersville, georgia, stopped producing beer and turned out canned drinking water instead. they want to build up a reserve of 25,000 cases in case it is needed for flood relief. they have given out six million cases over the years in response to various disasters. when we come back here tonight, the man who's making a real difference as his city struggles back from a terrible disaster.
tonight's "making a difference" report combines two things, our continuing coverage of the enormous damage and suffering in the city of christchurch, new zealand, and public appreciation of one man who stepped up to take care of the place and the people there. he's the mayor, and he's taken on a caring, tactile, comforting role. goodness knows, the people there need it. his story of making a difference tonight from christchurch, new zealand. here's nbc's george lewis. >> thank you for being here, guys. >> reporter: mayor bob parker has been going non-stop in the four days since the quake hit.
encouraging the rescue workers, updating the public, and granting endless press interviews. he's been called the earthquake mayor. a former tv host, bob parker has used his communication skills to rally his people, the way rudy giuliani did in new york after 9/11. trying to keep hope alive here amid the ruins. a quarter of downtown christchurch may have to be demolished. >> what keeps you going is that this city is my home. this is where we live. this is everything to us. >> reporter: and to anyone who calls him a hero, he has this response. >> the real heroes are actually out there, so it's very embarrassing to be talked about in those terms. >> reporter: among the real heroes he cites, the international teams of rescue workers who have come here to help out, including a team from the los angeles county fire department. they say they're still hoping to find survivors. >> we had some long survival times in buildings in haiti, and so we're looking for the same thing here. >> reporter: and if you're
looking for survivor stories, here's a great one. emma howard, trapped in the wreckage of this office building. >> then everything happened at once. my eyes must have shut but when they opened again i was on the floor. >> reporter: she sent a phone text to her fiance, chris greenslade, telling him where she was. >> i'm here, i'm okay and i love you very much. it's incredible. >> reporter: he responded. >> his message said i'm with your parents. i love you. there are lots of men trying to get you out. >> reporter: and emma was rescued, rushing to chris's arms. three days after the quake, they walked down the aisle together. love triumphing over tragedy. the mayor thinks their story is a great lesson for all of us. >> we motivate ourselves by believing in ourselves. and we believe in our future. we love this place. >> reporter: george lewis, nbc news, christchurch, new zealand. >> a nice thought to end on tonight. and that is our broadcast for this friday night and for this
week. thank you for being here with us. i'm brian williams. lester holt will be here with you this weekend. we, of course, hope to see you right back here on monday night. in the meantime, have a good weekend. good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com right now at 6:00, their son killed a man suspected of having murders their daughter. tonight janine harms' parents are talking to nbc bay area. here what they think of new evidence discovered tomei help solve her mysterious disappearance. tonight it's all about the big chill. a freeze in store for parts of the bay area. frz frz jooishgs